Gabriel Luna Speaks from the Set of Matador

Source:   Silas Lesnick
July 15, 2014

If you didn't get your fill of soccer during the World Cup, you might want to check out the latest original series to hit El Rey Network. "Matador," created by Roberto Orci, Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie and Andrew Orci, premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT with a pilot episode directed by Robert Rodriguez.

The series, which stars Gabriel Luna as Tony "Matador" Bravo, a CIA operative who is forced to go deep undercover as a professional soccer star, has already been picked up for a second season and had the chance to visit the Los Angeles set to speak with some of the series' cast and crew. Because the episode we saw being filmed won't air for a few more weeks, we're just going to tease the beginning of our conversation with Luna. Check back soon, however, for extended interviews with cast and crew like star Alfred Molina and co-creator Roberto Orci and, in the meantime, you can check out our newly-updated image gallery, which now includes over 40 images from the irreverent action series.

Luna, whose big screen credits include films like Richard Linklater's Bernie, is not hard to find on a soundstage. Between takes, he sits behind camera, strumming his guitar and singing to his castmates, among other songs, The Handsome Family's "Far From Any Road," the theme to "True Detective." In the below interview, Luna explains how "Matador" came his way, why you won't be hearing any singing on the show and he teases a clue as to how the show fits into El Rey's "cinematic universe."

CS: How did "Matador" begin for you?
Gabriel Luna:
You might have to go back to me watching "El Mariachi" through the crack of my cousin's bedroom door. We weren't allowed to watch it, but my brother and I snuck in through the hallway. That begat my love for Robert and his work. I think I was 13 years old. It was just cool, man. Top to bottom. Fast-forward to sitting with him at the Four Seasons hotel and talking about doing the show. I told him those stories. We mostly talked about home. I was born in Austin. We talked a lot about home. We talked a lot about a show he did with his band, Chingon. There was a great show they had done a year prior that I had been at. I had met him about four or five different times before that. His brother was shooter on a movie I did. Austin is almost a million people, but it still feels like a relatively small town. Everybody knows each other. Or at least everyone in the filmmaking community.

CS: When did it come down to talking about working together?
I just never really wanted to talk about the fact that I'm an actor. The one time I had the opportunity to do it, I didn't feel like I had the right to talk about it. We talked about home and we talked a ton about "Dusk." He needed me to know about sports because he doesn't care about sports. I went through the audition process. That was the third layer of things. When I went in for the screen-test it was Dan [Dworkin], Jay [Beattie], Heather [Kadin], Aaron, Mary [Vernieu], her assistant Lindsay [Graham] and then Robert on the Skype. On the screen there. I did my thing and they all turned to the screen. They're like, "So what do you think, Robert?" Of course, we're all waiting with bated breath, because there's a delay on the Skype. I'm the only one who can see him. Everyone else is behind the screen and I'm watching him. There he is. He takes out his earbuds. Everyone's holding their breath. He's like, "I think we can go into production!" In the room, I felt really good about it. Then, two hours later, I think, "What if he didn't mean me?! What if he meant they could go into production with another actor?" But I got the call about nine hours later from my agent and my lawyers. They told me, "Man, they had 16 days to decide and they decided in eight hours. You must have done something good."

CS: I heard you singing the "True Detective" theme between takes. Do you get to sing much in the show?
I don't get to sing at all in the show. No. To quote "True Detective," I think it's Cole that says it, "Life's barely long enough to get good at one thing." I think Tony Bravo's skill is that he's very perceptive and he's got lighting speed. He's a DEA agent. That's where he's skilled. His singing isn't really as well evolved.

CS: So far, what have you been doing that has been the most fun?
Well, we get to go out and just play. This is really the dream job for a young man. A man at, I think, any age. It takes me back to finger guns, squirt guns and playing ball. That's pretty much what I'm doing. So all of it. Every episode offers a new opportunity and that keeps it exciting. I run the risk of giving too much away if I continue.

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